A Brahmin sat reading the Bhagavad Gita by the light of a fire burning near him. Afflicted by the vicissitudes of life, his face brightened up by the solace he found in the text.
Suddenly, a Ghazi appeared in a black dress, sword in one hand, Quran in the other. He grabbed the Gita from the hands of the Brahmin and commanded him to read the Quran instead. “This is the true Word of God as revealed by His Messenger, Peace Be Upon Him,” he thundered fiercely. “My tradition teaches me that all other texts must be destroyed because inasmuch as they disagree with the Quran they are false and inasmuch as they agree with the Quran they are redundant.” Then he flung the Gita into the fire.
As the Brahmin rushed to save the text, the Ghazi caught his arm and clasped it firmly. The Brahmin struggled to release the grip in vain, watching helplessly as the pages of the Gita, scattered all over, started to burn. Then the Ghazi threatened him to read the Quran on pain of death but the Brahmin refused to submit.
As the exasperated Ghazi was about to bring down his sword upon the Brahmin’s neck, a Christian missionary appeared on the scene. He quickly summoned a solider who fought against the Ghazi and overpowered him. As the soldier held his adversary captive, the missionary summoned a doctor to treat the Brahmin who had suffered in his struggle against the Ghazi.
The Brahmin, impressed by the resourcefulness of the missionary, thanked him profusely. He was even more impressed as the missionary gathered up all the fragments of the Gita and respectfully handed them over to him. “How can I possibly repay your gratitude?” the Brahmin spoke admiringly. “This is the song of the Bhagavat.”
“The Word of your God, I presume?” the missionary asked.
“Well, I suppose you could call it that … it contains the most sublime teaching in the world,” the Brahmin replied.
“Does it now? Why don’t you tell me what your Book says?” urged the missionary.
Delighted at the request, the Brahman started to peruse the Gita but his face soon turned to horror and he looked up dolefully. “I don’t understand,” he babbled incoherently. “It doesn’t make any sense to me. Something happened to me while I was defending myself against that brute.” Tears welled up in his eyes and his voice shook in grief. “I cannot recall the meanings of these words anymore. They are just empty sounds to me.”
“There, there!” the missionary consoled. “Let me try.” He took the Gita from the Brahmin and read for a while. Then, he said cheerfully: “Look, there is a war and a man does not want to fight his brothers for power and wealth. Rather, out of love he wants to forgive the sins they have committed against him. But God tells him that it is his duty to fight them and that he would gain heaven if he died or the earth if he won. So he chooses to fight his brothers.”
The Brahmin was appalled. “That’s a terrible book. Does it really say that?”
“Here,” said the missionary handing back the Gita to him. “Why don’t you read it yourself?”
The anguished Brahmin flipped through the Gita again and put it aside in despair. “You are right … It does say that. I don’t understand … what value I saw in this book.”
The missionary sighed and took out a smartly bound Bible from his bag. “Why don’t you give this book a try? It is about the Son of God who suffered for the sins of mankind and taught love and forgiveness to the world.” The Brahmin read the passages pointed out by the missionary and his face turned radiant. “This is such a good, saintly book. May I borrow it?”
“Borrow it?” the missionary laughed. “It is yours my friend. You can keep it. In fact, I have a hundred more copies if you would like to distribute them to your friends.” The Brahmin could not believe his good fortune. “You are such a wonderful and generous man,” he praised the missionary over and over.
As the Brahmin was about the leave with the Bible, the missionary pointed to him the Gita lying by the side. “Aren’t you forgetting to take your holy book?” The Brahmin looked at the Gita with contempt and thoroughly embarrassed by the work of his ancestors, picked it up indignantly and flung it into the fire himself.
When the Brahmin had left with the Bible and the pages of the Gita had turned to ash, the missionary looked at the Ghazi and smiled triumphantly. “And that, my friend, is how it is done.”